Watson 2020: America's Self-Driving Presidency

Ken Jennings, the second most successful "Jeopardy" player of all time, has an IQ of 175.  That makes him smarter than 99.9998615605% of everybody. If you put him in a city the size of Indianapolis, he’d probably be the smartest person there.

In fact, in all of the U.S., statistics say there are only 443 people smarter than Jennings -- and one machine. Let’s not forget IBM’s Watson whupped Jennings’ ass over two days, piling up $77,147 in winnings to Jennings $24,000. It wasn’t even close. Watson won by a factor of more than 3 to 1.

That’s why I think Watson should run for president in 2020.

Bear with me. Donald Trump’s IQ is probably in the 119 range (not 156, as he boasts -- but then, he also boasted that every woman who ever appeared on "The Apprentice" flirted with him). Of course, we’ll never know. Like his tax returns, any actual evidence of his intelligence is unavailable. But let’s go with 119. That makes him smarter than 88.24% of the population, which isn’t bad, but it also isn’t great.  According to Wikipedia, if that IQ estimate were correct, he would be the second dumbest president in history, slightly ahead of Gerald Ford.



Here’s another way to think about it. If you were standing at a moderately busy bus stop, chances are somebody else waiting with you would be smarter than the president-elect of the United States.

Watson won "Jeopardy" in 2011. Since then, he’s become even smarter, becoming an expert in health, law, real estate, finance, weather -- even cooking. And when I say expert, I mean Watson knows more about those things than anyone alive.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has probably learned little in the last five years because, apparently, he doesn’t have time to read. But that’s OK, because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”

In the president-elect’s mind, that also qualifies him to “wing it” with things like international relations, security risks, emerging world events, domestic crises and the other stuff on his daily to-do list. He has also decided that he doesn’t need his regular intelligence briefing, reiterating, "You know, I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don't need that.”

That’s right, the future leader of the free world is, “you know, like, a smart person.” 

Now, President Watson could also decide to skip the briefing, but that’s because Watson can process 500 gigabytes -- the equivalent of a million books -- per second. Any analyst or advisor would be hard-pressed to keep up.

Let’s talk about technology. Donald Trump doesn’t appear to know how to use a computer. His technology prowess seems to begin and end with midnight use of Twitter.  To be fair, Hillary Clinton was also bamboozled by technology, as one errant email server showed all too clearly. But Watson is technology -- and, if you can follow this description from Wikipedia, apparently pretty impressive technology: “a cluster of ninety IBM Power 750 servers, each of which uses a 3.5 GHz POWER7 eight-core processor, with four threads per core. In total, the system has 2,880 POWER7 processor threads and 16 terabytes of RAM.

In a presidential debate, or, for that matter, a tweet, Watson can simultaneously retrieve information from its onboard 16-terabyte memory, process, formulate and fact-check.  Presumably, unlike Trump, Watson could remember whether or not he said global warming was a hoax, how long ISIS has actually been around and whether he in fact had the world’s greatest memory. At the very least, Watson would know how to spell “unprecedented.

But let’s get down to the real question. Whose digit do you want on the button: Trump’s “long and beautiful” fingers or Watson’s bionic thumb? Watson, who can instantly and rationally process terabytes of information to determine optimum alternatives -- or Trump, whose philosophy is that “it really doesn’t matter…as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of *ss.”

I know what you’re thinking: This is us finally surrendering to the machines. But at least it’s intelligence -- even if it is artificial.

Note: In writing what I thought was satire, I found once again that fact is stranger than fiction. Somebody had already thought of this idea four years ago:

4 comments about "Watson 2020: America's Self-Driving Presidency".
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  1. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, December 20, 2016 at 12:49 p.m.

    Uh, yeah, we need MORE articles like this, that enable idiots like Mr. Dixon to reveal themselves as the idiots they are.

  2. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, December 20, 2016 at 1:03 p.m.

    Or, parting thought: Was Mr. Dixon waxing satirical as well? We can only hope so.

  3. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, December 20, 2016 at 6:04 p.m.

    Based on just about every previous comment made by him, in my estimation his mental soup is 100% satire-free. 

  4. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., December 21, 2016 at 3:34 p.m.

    The only reason someone would write an opinion piece that has nothing at all to do with media is the mistaken belief that everyone else in the Mediapost readership would agree with him. 

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